Between March 15th and 20th, 2013, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement hosted the first Middle East Generational Ambassadors Summit, bringing together 18 young leaders from Egypt, Turkey and Israel. Ranging from the private sector, political world and civil society, the participants joined a group of speakers and facilitators from the United States for a program dedicated to personal leadership and cross-national collaboration.
In today’s Middle East, the Arab Spring and the call for social justice have brought into full view layers of discontent that are now boiling to the surface. Young men and women around the region are taking to the streets calling for change. This current round of regional unrest though is different than what the world is used to in the Middle East. The turmoil seen today demonstrates more than just a desire for more open, free government, but also the growing influence of the region’s youth.
To maintain stable regional relations, and further the cause of Middle East peace and prosperity, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement organized a gathering of young leaders from the some of the region’s main actors: Turkey, Israel, and Egypt. The individuals selected for this program are seen as Generational Ambassadors – meaning they not only represent their generation’s interests to the current leadership of their countries, but also to their peers in other nations.
Through a series of discussions and shared experiences, this group of young leaders got to better know each other, grow as young leaders, and come together around shared interests. The group decided to pursue two projects to develop in collaboration:
- Establishing a Regional Women Network that will connect and support young women in business and politics;
- Convening an Entrepreneurship vehicle to leverage existing efforts and assist new businesses by utilizing the comparative advantages of each nation involved.
The unique aspect of the above projects is the fundamental and built-in regional inclusion. These young leaders are focused on the common interests of their generation, rather than national divisions.
As a direct result for the summit, a business start-up competition, taking place in Turkey in October 2013, will for the first time include Israeli and Egyptian candidates.